CASLEE SIMS | Staff Writer
“Appetizing”, was the word that sophomore forward LenNard Freeman used to describe this 2014-15 N.C. State basketball season, “we definitely aren’t done, we have a lot more to accomplish together”.
It was a very eventful season and interesting offseason for the Wolfpack.
Mark Gottfried has managed to take the Wolfpack to the NCAA Tournament each of his four seasons while at the helm, advancing to the Sweet Sixteen twice. Before the arrival of Gottfried, the Wolfpack made it to what he calls “greatest show on Earth” five times in a 20-year span.
The departure of last season’s ACC Player of the year T.J. Warren left the team with huge holes to fill. He had been averaging 22 points per game, including a long stretch in which he scored 30 or more points.
Fortunately, the second of N.C. State’s transfers from the SEC, junior guard Trevor Lacey was able to pick up where Warren left off. The attention he garnered defensively opened up opportunities for senior guard/forward Ralston Turner, enabling him to knock down a career high of 3-pointers this season.
While Lacey led to Pack in scoring at almost 16 points per game, it was the emergence of Sophomore guard Anthony “Cat” Barber over the last half of the season that helped the Pack deliver three top-15 victories this season, including a win at #15 North Carolina, ending a 12-game road skid versus the Tar Heels.
Gottfried’s recruiting has also been a major component of the success he and the team has enjoyed in recent years. The additions of freshman forward Abdul-Malik Abu, twins Caleb and Cody Martin and transfer guard Terry Henderson gives the Wolfpack faithful something to look forward to.
These three freshmen along with the sophomore Henderson will be stalwarts in Gottfried’s rotation next season and their maturation will be key in helping the team have sustained success.
Why? Trevor Lacey has left for the NBA draft and sophomore forward Kyle Washington is reportedly transferring.
Lacey’s early departure is characteristic of the state of college basketball. His departure leaves another hole to fill, just as Warren’s bolt for the draft did. His success in the NBA will be something that fans will be rooting for. His shot creating ability, isolation prowess, leadership and willingness to play defense shall be coveted at the next level.
The news of Washington transferring could be looked at as something that was inevitable. Inevitable how? Washington is a highly skilled forward with the ability to knock down mid-range jumpers and the occasional 3-pointer. His streaky jump shot can generate offense in a hurry. Washington started a span of 15 straight contests this season and abruptly seen his minutes decreased and Gottfried deferring to Abu as the starting forward. His offense and his energy will be missed in the Wolfpack’s rotation next season.
So far, N.C. State has not acquired any recruits for this upcoming season, but there are a few top undeclared recruits considering taking their talents to Raleigh. Mark Gottfried and this still very talented roster will be looking to go 5-for-5 in NCAA tournament appearances during Gottfried’s tenure next season.